"Harder to Breathe" is a song by the American rock band Maroon 5. The song was written by frontman Adam Levine for the band's debut album Songs About Jane (2002).
In an interview with MTV News in August 2002, Maroon 5 vocalist Adam Levine, when asked behind the development of "Harder to Breathe", admitted that the song describes the band's frustration with their label, A&M/Octone Records, during the making of their debut album, Songs About Jane. The band thought they had enough material for a release, but when the label told them to keep writing, Levine wrote this song in frustration at the pressure. "That song comes sheerly from wanting to throw something. It was the 11th hour, and the label wanted more songs. It was the last crack. I was just pissed. I wanted to make a record and the label was applying a lot of pressure, but I'm glad they did."
"Harder to Breathe" tells the story of a relationship Levine had with a woman named Jane, who, according to Levine was the "muse" in the band's album.
"Harder to Breathe" was met with positive reception by music critics, who praised the track's sound. It was released in July 2002 as the lead single off Songs About Jane.
Maroon 5 released "Harder to Breathe" in the United States in July 2002 as the lead single of their debut album. The single charted on Airplay Monitor in the number six position. It peaked at number 18 on Billboard's Hot 100. The song also appeared on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart in the number 31 position. Internationally, "Harder to Breathe" appeared in the UK Singles Chart on January 31, 2004 in the number 13 spot. The song spent seven weeks on the chart, before retiring in the peak position of 60. The single appeared in the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand charts.
The song received positive reception from critics. In the Rolling Stone review of the album, critic Christian Hoard noted that "Harder to Breathe" is a "strong single" from the band. C. Spencer Beggs of The Observer wrote: "The two singles 'Harder to Breathe' and 'This Love' are the most poppy on the album, showing off Maroon 5's characteristic clean, crisp and upbeat sound." Sam Beresky of the Daily Lobo, who was less enthusiastic about the album, complimented Maroon 5 on "Harder to Breathe", in which he said, "The song is enjoyable. There are some aspects of mellow, soulful rockers like Train, John Mayer — maybe even a little Stevie Wonder or Jamiroquai. The track has a good rock meets R&B sound and is predictable enough to get radio play."
In October 2003, Levine told USA Today, regarding the success of the song, "I didn't love or hate the song, and I didn't care if it got on the album. We have a lot of pop songs on our record, and the idea was to start out with something different. Why come out of the gate with another pop song by another pop band?" The following year, the band released an EP entitled 1.22.03.Acoustic (2004), which features "Harder to Breathe" in an acoustic version. In 2005, Maroon 5 released a live album, Live – Friday the 13th, which features the song performed live.
The music video for "Harder to Breathe" was directed by Marc Webb, who later worked with the band for their 2008 video "Goodnight Goodnight". The video debuted on August 19, 2002.